Sorrell Wins Democratic Primary For AG; Donovan Concedes

08/29/12 5:50PM By Bob Kinzel
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AP/Toby Talbot
Attorney General Bill Sorrell, right, stands at the polls as Henry Hood, 10, wears a campaign sign on his head for his opponent, T.J. Donovan, on Tuesday in Burlington.

Incumbent Attorney General Bill Sorrell has won a razor thin victory over his Democratic Primary opponent, Chittenden County State's Attorney T.J. Donovan.  The margin of victory is roughly 600 votes and Donovan said he won't ask for recount.

At a midday press conference, Donovan conceded defeat to Sorrell. "There is no reason to prolong this, that's what I told Bill Sorrell this morning that I would not drag this on and I don't think a recount is warranted I don't want to do that to the Party."

It was a hard fought contest, and at times, bitter and negative accusation flew back and forth between the two campaigns.

AP/Toby Talbot
Attorney General Bill Sorrell, left, and his Democratic primary election opponent T.J. Donovan, shake hands on Wednesday in Burlington.
Sorrell ran on his record of 15 years in office while Donovan portrayed Sorrell's tenure as a liability and argued it was time for a change. At his concession press conference, Donovan said he was proud of his campaign.

"I remember telling myself if I could just do everything that I could possibly do when that bell rang at 7 o'clock last night, if I had no regrets and I knew I did everything I possibly could do it's out of my hands," said Donovan. "That's the way I feel, so there's no bitterness there's no regrets I actually feel pretty good this morning."

Sorrell said the close race shows that voters care about the issues raised by the Attorney General's office and he was grateful for his narrow victory.

"Voters have spoken they want me to continue to be Attorney General and now I've got a big race on my hands for November and I'm ready to go."

And Sorrell said he hoped to have Donovan's help in the general election campaign.

"TJ has offered to be of any assistance I want in the campaign. I appreciate his expression of the desire and willingness to be of help and I'm going to take advantage of that."

In his previous seven elections, Sorrell never had to campaign the way he did in this primary contest.  He says it was a positive experience.

"I've learned so much about human nature, about politics and about myself," said Sorrell. "That when it's really tough you just keep going keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep your eye on the long prize and just keep moving and all of a sudden it's election day."

Sorrell will now face Republican candidate Jack McMullen who wasted no time launching his campaign on Wednesday afternoon.

He called for tougher laws for drug dealers who commit violent crimes and he proposed expanded treatment programs for non violent offenders.

He also hopes to win over many of the Republicans and law enforcement groups that endorsed Donovan.

"I think there's a significant difference of opinion within the Democratic Party about how that office should be run which should provide an opening to the Republican candidate," McMullen. "And also all these people who endorsed TJ who's the more comfortable candidate for them now that he won't be in the general ?  I think it's me and I'm going to approach them to see what I can do."

McMullen has previously taught at Harvard Law School and says he hopes to become a member of the Vermont bar in the coming months.

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campaign_2012 bill_sorrell attorney_general_primary tj_donovan politics
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